Vienna's Volkstheater, one of the city's most renowned stages, is doing a rare thing -- putting on a musical. German actress Nicole Ansari will walk the streets, as Parisian prostitute Irma La Douce, starting March 31.
Alexandre Breffort's French musical was originally performed at the tiny Theatre Gramont in Paris in 1956. It tells the story of the Irma la Douce, a hustler who falls in love with an impoverished law student, Nestor-le-Fripe. They live together, until Nestor disguises himself as Monsieur Oscar and becomes Irma's sole client. However, he soon becomes disenchanted with his double life and dispenses with his alter ego--and is charged with being guilty of murder. He escapes from Devil's Island just in time to return to Irma for the birth of their baby.
The English version opened in 1958 and was a big success, playing for 1512 performances at the Lyric Theatre. The New York production -- with most of the British cast -- played for over a year, with Elizabeth Seal winning a Tony for her Irma.
A 1963-movie version dispensed with all the songs, but had strong leads; Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon.
For the Volkstheater-production, Lida Winiewicz has written German lyrics to the music of Alexandre Breffort. Ludwig Hirsch, a famous Austrian actor and songwriter, is Nestor. J. Michael Fields, who has worked in the West End and at the Chichester Festival, directs for the first time at the Volkstheater. Bernhard van Ham is the musical director. After previews from March 28-30, Irma La Douce opens on March 31. Performances in April: 2/4/6/11-13/ 15/17-19/21/24-25/28-30.
Tickets can be ordered at +43-1-523 27 76.
- By Bernd Freimueller